Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, various footballers from all over the planet have displayed their skill and talent in what is arguably the most competitive league in the world. We have seen a Dutch invasion, a French revolution and slew of talent from Africa and South America. However this time around it’s the Belgians that are having their time in the spotlight.
Last season in the Premier League, Belgium footballers were responsible for a total of more than 60 goals and over 40 assists. Only English players have surpassed this number due to the larger percentage of them in the top flight.
So who are these impact players? Let’s take a look at some Belgians who now ply their trade in the Premier League:
He has arguably provided more stability at the back for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool. His £9million pound transfer from Sunderland last season is sure to give this rising star a strong case for the number one position in net for club and country. With a few clean sheets under his belt this season, Liverpool just might have found the keeper they have been looking for.
Manchester City’s captain Kompany had a rise to fame in his native Belgium with local club RSC Anderlecht and then German side Hamburger SV. Later on Kompany would catch the eye of City. Ever since, he has been a formidable figure in the back. With over 155 appearances and seven goals to his name, the 27 year old is one of the best defenders in the world.
Other than Tottenham’s 3-0 loss at the weekend to West Ham United, Tottenham have conceded very few goals this season partly due to the quality of Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen. On BBC London 94.9 recently,Vertonghen stated “We have a lot of confidence. I think everybody can see we don’t concede a lot of goals.” For Tottenham supporters, that is sure to boost their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League at the end of this season.
The Belgian has had many injury woes the past couple of season, including a recent fatigue fracture. However Wenger stated that “He has gone through a difficult period but he is a great player, and will show that in the future now that he is completely fit and available.” Wenger went on to add, “He is fantastic, as a character and a player. Everyone is happy that he is back.” Belgian supporters are hoping Vermaelen can work his left footed magic in defense towards their efforts of qualifying for Brazil in 2014.
The player was recently stretchered off in their Europa League opening match at home against Tromso. However Dembele made his presence felt in the following matches for Tottenham. The 26 year old will hope to continue his impressive form at White Hart Lane despite the fact that some Tottenham supporters prefer to see Sandro or Lewis Holtby in the midfield position.
I am sure many wig makers throughout the Manchester are are happy that business is booming for them. The former Everton man signed for Manchester United in the summer for £27.5 million. With five matches under his belt for United in the Premier League so far, the almost two meter tall Belgian is still acclimatizing to the ways of the champions. The Manchester Derby was a nightmarish affair for many supporters in red. However the season is long and Fellaini has already suffered an injury, which could rule him out for several weeks after he undergoes surgery.
Kevin De Bruyne
The 22-year old finds himself with some formidable competition at Stamford Birdge. The likes of Andre Schurrle, Oscar, and Willian will be competing for some prime real estate in the midfield. Last season De Bruyne was loaned out to Werder Bremen and saw him collect 10 goals and land second in total goal tally for the club. In his loan spell he showed some promise for Mourinho as to why to keep the young Belgian in his side. Playing alongside the likes of Mata, fellow countryman Hazard and the Brazilian Oscar, the number 15 young baby-faced Belgian will hope to gain the vote of confidence from the supporters and his manager.
Coming over from Lille to Chelsea was a huge move for Hazard. With 34 match appearances and 9 goals to his name in the 2013-2013 Premier League season, Hazard put his own blueprint on the Chelsea midfield. His pace and dribble combined with his low center of gravity really make him a formidable task for defenders to manage. However recent injuries and his lack of finishing in front of goal have raised some eyebrows about his ability and whether or not he is up to the task for club and country. All he needs is some goals to help him regain his confidence.
Roberto Martinez has been receiving much praise and attention for Everton’s recent performances. While the Catalan tactician has been solidifying his attack up front with fellow Belgian Romelu Lukaku, and Nikica Jelavic, the 25 year old is looking promising. Last season saw him play 27 matches and put away 6 goals for Everton. Martinez will be looking for more from one half of his Belgian attacking prowess. Having being put in on the right and left wings of attack in the past few matches, Martinez has someone at his disposal that can be lethal from all sides.
Roberto Martinez’s transfer deadline loan signing has been proving to be a hidden gem for Everton. Recently in their match with West Ham United, Lukaku netted the match winner. In his post match interview he stated “Nothing. I didn’t even know that I’d scored. That was the first thing that I asked. I don’t remember anything, I had the knock and then I didn’t remember what happened.” Last year at West Bromwich Albion, the Belgian collected a total of 17 goals in 35 Premier League appearances.
In their loss to Chelsea at Villa Park in the third match of this season, Benteke managed to put away the only goal for Villa on the night. Throughout the match he was proving to be menacing and somewhat of a nuisance for the Chelsea defense. However in the post match interview, Mourinho dubbed the Belgian strikers as “the big boy.” For Villa fans, the “big boy” has a record that can speak for itself. Last season, Benteke made 34 club appearances tallying 19 goals on the campaign. Paul Lambert will be hoping Benteke can help turn fortunes around at Villa Park.
As these Belgian stars continue to shine, so will the Premier League. This collection of “golden age” footballers from a country that has been pretty quiet in its players production line, is finally making noise. The Belgian side currently sits in a commanding first place in group A. With a match against Croatia on Friday, October 11 and Wales on October 15, they will be looking to make sure that there is a Samba-filled summer throughout Belgium next year.